Lola Álvarez Bravo: Picturing Mexico

Yale Univ. 2018. 96p. ed. by ed. by Stephanie Weissberg. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300238709. $30. PHOTOG
five-decade career spanned the 1920s–90s, and her photography contributed to a significant chapter in postrevolutionary Mexican history. Her work documented an era of dramatic change in Mexico, and, as photographer, educator, gallerist, and curator, Álvarez Bravo was an essential contributor to the modernist movement in her nation. Traveling throughout Mexico, she produced documentary photos for respected journals such as Mexican Folkways and El Maestro Rural and photojournalism for periodicals including Vea, Voz, Avance, and Frente a frente. Curator Weissberg (Pulitzer Arts Foundation) encourages readers to understand Álvarez Bravo’s career by looking closely at her imagery in context of her political and cultural moment, to learn more about the artist’s “working process and photographic principles.” Included are almost 50 black-and-white images of urban and rural scenes, portraits of Mexican modernist figures (Felix Candela, Diego Rivera, María Izquierdo), and abstractions. Although Álvarez Bravo was a documentarian and journalist, some of the images have an extraordinary dreamlike aura, evoking surrealism.
VERDICT An excellent brief introduction to a photographer not well enough known in the United States.
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